|Land Advocacy & Ancestral Memory|
Food ways are important to me. Food ways are the language that I understand. I am not a fluent speaker of the N'Dee (Apache) or Dineh (navajo) languages. I am a fluent speaker in the language of the colonizer, English. Over time I have shed elements of its destructive potential through understanding the vocabulary of violence. My deliberate steps toward the vocabulary of affection have allowed me to become fluent or at least begin to understand another language--Food ways. In taking small steps to use our language in my cooking style, I have been shown elements of this profound conceptual universe that is still wide open and unknown to me. This unknown is an exciting frontier to me as a cook that searches for mental, emotional and intellectual nourishment. I am fortunate to be a chef that is mindful of oppression and keen to colonization, while cooking with decolonization in mind. The language of Food ways speaks to me and I listen...at times it is not easy because I too, live in this age of distraction, fast food and disease.
|Western Apache/English Dictionary|
When sticking to what cultural protocol I know about food preparation and consumption, the western term 'Chef' is or has become today, a direct contradiction to what food and the preparation of food means to us in our indigenous homes and community. I struggle with this fact. I do my best to find balance with what the word 'chef' means in the colonial world that has been build up around us as indigenous peoples and what I understand from personal experience about indigenous cooks in my life. The commonality is humility, vitality and diligence...universal principles. I have been doing my best to allow my cooking to be a balance that is unapologetic about indigenous foods. I believe that in conceptualizing a cuisine in the shadows of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and the many guises of self-government, at least I can allow the foods to be themselves in the hope that others hear/understand the language of Food ways. I enjoy the world of culinary arts, because it teaches me so much about the forces that animate my world as an indigenous person. Falsehoods of luxury built on the appropriation of indigenous food ways is the equivalent of imperial slumming and often comical from an indigenous person's perspective.
So this is the final frontier. The last life saving and life giving element of our indigenous vitality...Food ways. The culture of cuisine that we build as indigenous peoples of all demographics can be revitalized to reflect 'at-will' not 'at-risk'. I will not accommodate modernity in the pursuit of Ancestral Knowledge, because to do so would only aid and abet the final colonization and recolonization of Indigenous Food ways and Indigeneity. Decolonization is a right, not an intellectual privilege. Lets make it happen. Stand Strong. Perpetuate Good.